Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

As Covid-19 cases go down, Austria prepares for significant reopening steps over Easter weekend and more news on Friday.

people streets vienna
Austria's population has hit the nine million mark for the first time. (Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash).

Austria is getting ready for fewer restrictions

On Thursday 14th April, the federal government and later on the same day, the Viennese representative announced several relaxations in the country, as Covid-19 cases dropped.

The general FFP2 mask mandate falls and masks will only be mandatory in public indoor spaces considered “essential”, such as supermarkets, public transport, and care facilities, Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) said.

Vienna is following similar relaxation measures and also from Saturday 16th April, will drop its mask mandate and its 2G rules.

From then on, people will no longer need to present proof that they have either been vaccinated against Covid-19 or have recovered from the disease to enter places such as sports facilities and bars and restaurants.

READ ALSO: Vienna to drop vaccination and recovery requirements from Saturday

Calls for more easing of restrictions

Even as the government announced fewer restrictions, some sectors demanded further reopening steps.

Trade unionists representing workers in the food trade have argued that dropping the mask requirement in other stores but not in supermarkets is “incomprehensible”.

“If you have to wear this mask eight hours a day and have to tidy up shelves and sometimes do heavy work, then it is no longer understandable why it is not mandatory in a clothing store, but it is in food markets”, Wolfgang Gerstmayer, Managing Director of the GPA, told ORF.

READ ALSO: Austria to keep masks only in ‘essential places’ from April 17th

Covid numbers continue to drop

Meanwhile, Covid case numbers continue to drop in Austria, according to the Health Ministry figures. On Thursday 14th April, 10,483 new cases of coronavirus infections were reported (there were 178,374 PCR tests taken).

Currently, 2,206 people are in hospital due to Covid-19, 131 fewer than the previous day, and 187 are in intensive care units with the virus. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 16,359 people have died from Covid-19.

Austria currently has only 68.7% of its population fully immunised and have a valid green pass.

READ ALSO: Why are the numbers of fully-vaccinated people going down in Austria?

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Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

First monkeypox case found in Austria, Van der Bellen to run again, millions of Russian assets frozen, and more news on Monday

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

First case of monkeypox in Vienna

The first case of monkeypox has reached Vienna. A 35-year-old man is being treated in an isolation ward in a clinic in the Favoriten district after developing typical symptoms of the disease: a slight fever and pustules. Contact tracing is already underway, broadcaster ORF reports. Experts are unsure why the disease, which is normally only occurs in Africa, is spreading throughout Europe.

Alexander Van der Bellen to run for President again 

Austria’s President Van der Bellen has announced on Twitter that he will stand once again for the President of Austria. This was expected last week, when a TikTok video was released showing footage of the President which played The Clash song, “Should I stay or should I go?”.

The Greens, liberal NEOS and left wing SPÖ parties have all welcomed the decision, but the far right FPÖ party has announced it plans to put up a rival candidate, broadcaster ORF reports. The FPÖ’s leader, Herbert Kickl, criticised Van der Bellen for his support of the Covid policy in Austria and for “weakening Austria’s neutrality”, the broadcaster reports.

EXPLAINED: How does Austria’s presidential election work?

Russian assets worth millions of euros frozen in Austria

Around 254 million euros in Russian assets have been frozen in a total of 97 accounts in Austria as part of  EU sanctions, the Federal Chancellery announced on Sunday. Broadcaster ORF reports this is twice as much as Germany has managed. A task force led by the Directorate for State Security and Intelligence (DSN) in the Ministry of the Interior is responsible for investigating the assets. The investigators also managed to locate five land register entries that were supposed to have served to conceal assets.

Villa in Attersee occupied by squatters

Anarchist squatters gained access to a villa believed to be owned by a Russian oligarch villa in Burgau am Attersee in the municipality of St. Gilgen on Saturday The squatters demanded sanctions from the Russian owner Igor Shuvalov, who , according to media reports, is said to have vacated the villa in March. The squatters have since left the building.

Austria’s former foreign minister could face sanctions soon

Austria’s former foreign minister Karin Kneissl could face sanctions from the EU, after she failed to resign from her job with Russian oil giant Rosnef. By contrast, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has left his position with the firm after sanctions were threatened. 

The OE24 website reports she will continue in her role, which pays an annual salary of 515,000 euros. It is now up to the EU Commission to propose them for inclusion in the sanctions list, which could soon mean her assets are frozen and her bank accounts are blocked. 

Vienna’s Uno City promised 30 million euro refurb

Vienna’s UNO City, which is home to the city’s international organisations and its 5,000 workers, has been promised a 30 million euro refurb by the Republic of Austria, which owns the high rise buildings. The  office towers in the Donaustadt are more than 40 years old and urgently need renovation. The total costs could end up being ten times higher than the 30 million euros promised so far. for the first phase. Broadcaster ORF reports the buildings no longer comply with building and fire regulations.